Country School and Horizons Celebrate Culture, Collaboration and History

Hundreds of New Canaan Country School and Horizons parents and students celebrated the school’s commitment to inclusion at Culture & Collaboration Day, Sat. Jan. 30. (View photos & video
Through alumni and student stories, lively dances and fun, hands-on activities, the community learned about the school’s 100-year history and its partnership with the Horizons Student Enrichment Program, founded at NCCS in 1964. This year’s theme was “Together in Meaningful Experiences (T.I.M.E)” in honor of the school’s centennial. 

The day began with five ninth-graders reflecting on their experiences at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference which took place in Tampa, Fla. in December 2015. They talked about deconstructing stereotypes and the importance of having a curious and open mind. A panel discussion followed featuring Country School and Horizons alumni and a current student. Moderated by Amy Chan Downer ‘72, a Princeton graduate and commercial banker, panelists discussed their journeys through Country School as Horizons students.
Andres Soto ‘10, a junior at Columbia University studying Applied Mathematics, spoke about the importance of understanding one’s identity.  “In order to be ready for the global and interconnected world, you have to know who you are and where you come from.”
 “When you feel included, you feel important. When you are important, you strive to do your best,” said seventh grader Jennifer Llamas.
Current fourth grade teacher Maria Sette ‘92 and Horizons Program Director Kevin Thompson, both Horizons alumni, also spoke about how the program gave them a broad range of opportunities and exposure.  
Director of Community Development Lynn Sullivan read a letter by President Obama aloud congratulating the school on its 100-year anniversary. It said, “I hope your community takes pride in the ways your school has touched lives.”
A “Dance through the Decades” performed by dozens of NCCS and Horizons students brought the audience to their feet. The collaborative staged dances from different eras, from the Charleston to the Nae Nae.
From the auditorium, attendees moved into the gymnasium which had been transformed into a historical journey through the decades. Ten elaborately decorated stations, each representing a decade with volunteers in period costumes, gave a snapshot of historical events as well as NCCS and Horizons milestones that occurred at that time. They each also had a craft or other activity related to the decade for parents and children to experience. For example, at the 1920s aviation booth children launched paper airplanes down a runway; the 50s pavilion kids were hula-hooping; in the 1960s pavilion children made tie-dye t-shirts; and the 2000s pavilion the NCCS robotics team showcased artificial intelligence. The event ended with a multi-cultural potluck luncheon.
According to Ms. Sullivan, “Inclusion and collaboration were key to the day’s success. More than 100 parent volunteers from a variety of backgrounds and with different interests made sure that we had something to offer everyone. Everything came together so beautifully because everyone had a voice and a stake in the culminating event.”